Open Context


Tick Island Zooarchaeological Data

Zooarchaeological specimen records from the Tick Island site (8VO24), Florida (Florida Museum, University of Florida, Environmental Archaeology Program accession #0019)

Project Abstract


Tick Island is an archaeological site located near the St. Johns River in Volusia County, Florida, USA, between Lake Dexter and Lake Woodruff. There are two large shell mounds located on Tick Island, one on the north side of the island, and the other on Harris Creek to the south (Jahn and Bullen 1978:7). The site was surface surveyed and test excavated by Otto Jahn and Ripley Bullen in the early 1970s and described the site in their report: “The available information from dredged material and test pits indicates that the northwestern (rear) part of the site was occupied during the preceramic Archaic period. The central part of the site was occupied during the Orange and Florida Transitional periods. The southern (front) part of the site was occupied during the Transitional, St. Johns I and II periods. It appears that the site was more or less continuously occupied throughout these periods, in contrast to most other sites in this area. During this time the expansion of the site towards the channel may have been due to a declining water level and then the front part of the site increased in depth as the water level increased. Base on the occurrence of St. Johns Check Stamped sherds as the last major type and the lack of historical items, it is believed that this site was abandoned before historic times.” (Jahn and Bullen 1978:20). "For convenience the site was divided into four arbitrary sections. In Section I the mound probably reached an elevation of three to four feet above the water table. The height of the shell decreased gradually toward the west and was also lower on the north and east sides. Section II was similar to Section I in general appearance with separation based on the intervening low area along Harris Creek. In Section II the mound also had an elevation of as much as two-three feet near the shore-line. Section III reached a higher level elevation than Sections I and II, possibly as high as eight to ten feet in an elongated central portion. Section IV consisted of a single large mound, the highest point on the site, reportedly as high as 25 feet." Jahn and Bullen (1978:8-9)

The site was partially removed by dredge and barge for commercial purposes before Jahn and Bullen began work there (Jahn and Bullen 1978:iv). Otto Jahn conducted surface surveys and excavations across the site. He excavated six test pits (pits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5A, 5B) as well as three smaller unnamed pits (Jahn and Bullen 1978). “Between 1964 and 1968 (when dredging ceased) 31 visits were made to the site [by Otto Jahn]. In addition several collections were made at the shell washer [at the shell yard in DeLeon] that could be associated with their source on the site. ... Most of the material collected was exposed by the dredging operation due to time limitations and to the volume of material that existed in the underwater deposits. However, several test pits were attempted.” (Jahn and Bullen 1978:10-11).

Elizabeth Wing and several of her students from a UF course (APY 574) identified bones from the site provided by Jahn and Bullen (Jahn and Bullen 1978:15). One of the students, Bill Fullilove, analyzed faunal samples from site areas designated G, B 7/15/67, C 7/29/67, F 10/14/67, and F 2/10/68, noting that “Sometime after this Ripley P. Bullen made several collections of the preceramic areas of the midden. It is from this collection that the sample came.” (Fullilove 1974:3). Karen Malesky, another student in the same course, describes the provenience she analyzed follows: “Today the midden has mostly been destroyed due to mining for drive-way fill. The top layers of shell and refuse have been removed and therefore the collection is a surface collection with no provenience other than gridded off areas that were then given letters and dated.” (Malesky 1974:1). It is possible that both collections are from Jahn and Bullen's surface collections as they reported that “Food bones were also collected [during the surface surveys] and have been kindly identified by Dr. Elizabeth S. Wing, zooarchaeologist at the Florida State Museum. The result is presented in Table 3 according to collection areas." (Jahn and Bullen 1978: 15) That table is captioned "Identified bone from Section I at Tick Island" Both students recorded species, number of fragments, minimum number of individuals (MNI), and bone weight from each area on a species list in their class papers, and the elements of each species, in each area, were listed on the accompanying species cards. Wing provided the summarized results as Table 3 in Jahn and Bullen (1978).

About the Project: This project is one of several experimental test-cases to integrate zooarchaeological data published by Open Context with VertNet, via the Darwin Core metadata standard. In relating these zooarchaeological data with a wider bioinformatics community, this experiment provides a basis for developing "ZooArchNet" (, a collaborative data-sharing initiative led by Dr. Kitty Emery and Dr. Rob Guralnick, Associate Curators at the Florida Museum of Natural History. They intend ZooArchNet to become a digital environmental archaeology portal that focuses on mobilizing zooarchaeological specimen-level data using tools pioneered for publishing biological and paleontological data, while also creating persistent links to, and among, open-data archaeological repositories. By doing so, ZooArchNet will facilitate data interoperability across a growing network of information resources spanning multiple disciplines, creating a foundation for integrative big-data research at the interface of archaeology and biology, and opening the door to the development of distributed data networking in archaeology. Kitty Emery provided the zooarchaeological data and archaeological context information provided here. For the time being, the same data are modeled in Darwin Core at:


Fullilove, Bill

Interpretation of a Faunal Sample from Tick Island Midden (VO 24). Zooarchaeology (APY 574) course manuscript. On file, Environmental Archaeology, Accession #0019, Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville.

Jahn, Otto, L. and Bullen, Ripley P.

The Tick Island Site, St. Johns River, Florida. In Adelaide K. Bullen and Jerald T. Milanich (Eds.), Florida Anthropological Society Publication 31(4), part 2.

Malesky, Karen J.

Tick Island: Faunal Remains. Zooarchaeology (APY 574) course manuscript. On file, Environmental Archaeology, Accession #0019, Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville.

Annotations (4)

Property or Relation Value(s)
[Standard: Dublin Core Terms]
[Standard: Dublin Core Terms]
[Standard: GeoNames]
Temporal Coverage
[Standard: Dublin Core Terms]
Editorial Note

Open Context editors work with data contributors to annotate datasets to shared vocabularies, ontologies, and other standards using 'Linked Open Data' (LOD) methods.

The annotations presented above approximate some of the meaning in this contributed data record to concepts defined in shared standards. These annotations are provided to help make datasets easier to understand and use with other datasets.

Suggested Citation

Kitty F Emery, Otto Jahn, Ripley P Bullen, Elizabeth Wing, Laura Brenskelle, Michelle LeFebvre. "Tick Island Zooarchaeological Data". (2018) In ZooArchNet. Kitty F Emery, Rob Guralnick, Michelle LeFebvre, Laura Brenskelle, John W Wieczorek (Eds.) . Released: 2018-12-19. Open Context. <> DOI:

Editorial Status

Editorial board reviewed

Part of Project


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